Paolo Simoni was a citizen of Rome who was recruited into the Assassin Order by Ezio Auditore Da Firenze in early 1501, after being assaulted by guards. He was trained by Ezio, before being assigned to the city of Venice later in the year, and then assigned to Naples. Paolo was normally calm and patient, however he was prone to short fits of rage. Paolo commonly wore white robes, with black and red detailing, and a red scarf. He often wielded a sword taken from a Borgia guardsman and a hidden blade. His most distinctive feature was the scar on his cheek, cut by the guard whose sword he now used. During his time in Naples, Paolo also wielded the rope-chain of St. Januarius, a holy weapon used by the patron saint of the city.
- 1 Recruitment and Training
- 2 Venice
- 3 Return to Rome
- 4 Napoli (Naples)
- 5 Destabilising the Templars in Napoli
Recruitment and Training
Paolo had been working as a salesman in Rome for two years, when a group of Borgia guards assaulted him, destroyed his stall and stole his wares. Because of this, Paolo attacked them. One of the guards drew a sword and sliced a scar into his cheek, one that became one of his most distinctive features. The guard was about to kill Paolo when Ezio Auditore threw a knife into the man's back. Paolo took the guard's sword and fought the rest of the guards, working alongside Ezio to kill them all. After the fight, Ezio recruited Paolo, and the two fled over the rooftops, with Ezio teaching Paolo several free-running techniques, and both men performing a Leap of Faith to escape.
After their escape, Ezio told Paolo about the conflict between the Assassins and the Templars, and Paolo pledged himself to the Assassin cause. Ezio led Paolo to the Assassin headquarters at Tiber Island, where Paolo met Niccolo Machiavelli for the first time.
Training to become an Assassin
After agreeing to join the Assassins, Paolo worked with other Assassin apprentices to learn the methods used by the Assassins. Each different faction in Rome provided part of Paolo's training. La Volpe and his thieves helped the apprentices learn how to steal and free-run, with thieves and apprentices competing in games of Capture the Flag, to help them learn which skills to use at which times. Bartolomeo d'Alviano's condottierri taught Paolo and the recruits combat skills, and the courtesans of the Rosa in Fiore taught the apprentices how to blend in to any society. Ezio and Machiavelli taught the recruits one of their main skills; how to identify Templars and threats from the crowds of people. During his training, Paolo formed strong friendships with Francesco Vecellio, Cipriano Enu and Tessa Varzi, three other recruits who were in training.
After several months of training, Ezio announced that the apprentices were ready to become full Assassins. He assigned Paolo, as well as another recruit, Gabriela Russo, to travel to Venice and work with Antonio de Magianis, the leader of the Thieves Guild there. Paolo spoke to Ezio before he left, and requested that he remain in Rome with his friends. Ezio taught Paolo one of the most important lessons of being an Assassin; that an Assassin must follow his duties and protect the people, regardless of his own wishes.
Arriving in Venice
Paolo and Gabriela arrived in Venice at night in early June, 1501, and Paolo offered a hand to help her climb a steep wall. However, she refused to accept his aid, revealing to him one of her character traits; that she was stubbornly independent. When they arrived at the Palazzo Seta, base of the Thieves Guild, both Assassins were annoyed to find that Antonio refused to see them until the morning. Paolo was willing to let this lie, but Gabriela insisted that they find Antonio, and teach him the dangers of ignoring Assassins. The two climbed out of the window, and onto the rooftops. They easily took down the sentries, but did not kill them. When they located Antonio's room, the Assassins smashed through the windows, into his study.
The two Assassins faced Antonio, who applauded their courage. Also in the room was another Assassin from the Constantinople Guild, who quickly left. Antonio apologised for ignoring the Assassins, and explained it was because he had to deal with the Turkish Assassin, Yusuf Tazim, who was looking for goods that had been taken from Constantinople to Venice by the Templars during the Ottoman-Venetian war. Antonio then assigned the Assassins to their first mission; to take down a corrupt politician who planned to assassinate the Doge of Venice, who was currently an ally to the Assassins.
Delving into Politics
Paolo and Gabriela planned their attack meticulously, preparing for almost every possibility. However, when they tried to attack, ten of the crowd revealed themselves to be Templar agents, and attacked both Assassins, wielding short blades. Paolo focused all of his energy into fending off his foes, while Gabriela gave chase to the fleeing politician. Paolo battled frantically, and cut down six of his foes before he was sliced deeply across the chest by one of them. Despite the brutal wound, he fought on, eventually managing to kill all of his opponents. When Gabriela returned, having cut down the politician, she found Paolo resting against a well. Gabriela helped Paolo to his feet, and aided him in getting away from the area before the guards showed up.
The two Assassins returned to their quarters in the Palazzo Seta, where Gabriela helped Paolo bandage up the cut across his chest. However, the wound was deep, and Paolo knew it would be some time before he had the strength to free-run and fight again. Gabriela continued to follow the assignments given by Antonio, and Paolo spent the majority of his time helping Antonio with paperwork, because he felt unable to function as an Assassin.
It was late one night in July. Paolo, as most days, was working late in the Doge's Palace, having been given permission to borrow some books from the magnificent library inside, when he saw the Doge, Agostino Barbarigo, acting suspiciously and talking to a hooded man. Paolo moved closer, and saw the hooded man had the Templar cross on a ring on his hand, and also saw Doge Agostino hand the hooded Templar a bag, that clinked with the clear weight of money. The Doge had broken his promises to the Assassins, and retribution would be swift.
As soon as he returned to the Palazzo Seta, Paolo looked for Gabriela, finding her in Antonio's study, telling him how she killed another target, a guard captain who abused his position and stole from the people. Paolo pulled her away, and told her what he had discovered. When she asked what to do with this information, Paolo told her to ride to Rome and tell Ezio of this discovery, because he still didn't trust Antonio fully. There was something suspicious about Antonio, and Paolo just didn't trust him.
In September, Gabriela returned to Venice. However, she was not alone. With her were three other Assassins; Francesco Vecellio, Tessa Varzi and Cipriano Enu, Paolo's friends from training. The five Assassins immediately planned a way to take down the Doge without the Templars realising who killed him. They decided on a plan; poison combined with paranoia. Francesco began forging letters, and Paolo, being a regular visitor of the Doge's Palace, used his sources inside to gain access to Agostino's room and plant the letters where they would be found. Tessa used her expertise with poisons to rub powder over each letter, which would be guaranteed to kill him slowly. As each letter was finished, Paolo placed them in Agostino's desk. Enu, Francesco and Paolo followed Agostino discreetly through the city, watching him as he firstly tried to understand the messages left, then became insane with paranoia, screaming at the rooftops, even though he could not see the Assassins hidden there.
Francesco, Tessa and Enu remained in the city until the 20th of September, when Agostino finally died of the poison sprinkled on the letters. Paolo gave them a message to take back to Ezio, voicing his concern about Antonio's allegiances. Paolo mainly doubted the thief because, despite his web of spies in the city, he never once mentioned at all the Templar agents who visited Agostino, and because of his instincts, which were telling him that Antonio was not a man to trust.
Several weeks after the death of Agostino Barbarigo, a new Doge was announced to the population of Venice: Leonardo Loredan. Paolo and Gabriela visited the new Doge in his Palace, entering silently in the night, without being noticed, until they entered Loredan's personal quarters. When he awoke, the two Assassins were sat at the foot of his bed. After he calmed down from the shock of two trained killers being in his room, Loredan asked what they wanted. Paolo responded by informing him of how the Assassins were behind the deaths of the previous two Doges. He told Loredan how they killed Agostino for dealing with the Templars and the Borgias, before warning Loredan that the same fate would meet him if he did so. The new Doge agreed not to deal with the Templars, asking who to deal with instead. Gabriela told him to take his dealings to Antonio, at the Palazzo Seta. After this, the two Assassins escaped the Palace by climbing out of one of the outward-facing windows.
After a few weeks more, during which time he worked alongside Leonardo Loredan to establish good relations between him and the thieves of the city, Paolo announced he was returning to Rome. Although he did not say it to Antonio, it was partially because he still didn't trust the thief. However, he also thought that the majority of the Templar threats in Venice were taken care of, and he was no longer needed in the city. As he tried to leave, Gabriela stopped him. She told him that she would remain in the city to help fully set up an Assassin's Guild, but that she also had developed feelings for Paolo. As she watched him on the ferry away from the city, a tear formed in her eye.
Return to Rome
Paolo returned to Rome in late 1501, surprised by the changes Ezio had made to the city in his absence. The city was cleaner, more shops were open than before, and sections of the city had been fully reclaimed from the Borgia. He headed directly to the Assassin base on Tiber Island, avoiding conflict on the way. When he arrived, Ezio was already there, waiting for him. Ezio was impressed with the work the Assassins had done in Venice, and agreed with Paolo's decision to leave, as well as Gabriela's decision to stay. Upon hearing Paolo's concerns about Antonio's allegiances, he dismissed them out of hand, saying that Antonio would never betray the Assassins. Ezio also told Paolo where he would be assigned next: Napoli (Naples). Ezio told Paolo that he was going to undermine the reign of the French Templars who had taken control of the region, until the Spanish could reclaim the city-state.
Arrival in Napoli
Paolo arrived in Napoli in late November, 1501. He had to swim into the city docks, because he couldn't gain access via the land. This was due to a roadblock set up by the French Templars, who seemed to know the Assassin was coming for them. Once on dry land, he changed into a shirt and a pair of trousers stolen from a line outside a house. He kept his hidden blade on his wrist, and a dagger on his belt, but stored his sword and other weapons with his clothes, in a sack which he slung over one shoulder. He immediately looked around for an abandoned house where he could squat for the night, intending to make contact with the underbelly of society the next morning. Also, in the day it would be easier for him to blend with the crowd.
After an uneasy night's sleep, Paolo woke to find his own sword threatening him. His knife had been taken from his belt, but they hadn't touched his hidden blade, partially because he had wrapped a scarf around that arm. He realised what was going on: the Assassin had spent his night in the territory of these thieves, and they were pissed at him. He immediately swung his legs, knocking over the thief holding his sword. He then rolled to his feet, extending his hidden blade as the thieves moved to attack him. Upon seeing the weapon, however, the thieves dropped their blades. The leader, the one who wielded Paolo's sword, begged an apology from the Assassin, having realised who they had attacked. They escorted Paolo to the Thieves' Guild, hidden in the sewers of the city.
Paolo was greeted with a smile by Alessandro Regaino, the head of the Thieves' Guild. Alessandro had been an Assassin recruit at the same time as Paolo, and had been assigned to Napoli when Paolo was assigned to Venice. After catching up on what Paolo had done in Venice, Paolo asked what had happened to Alessandro, and why he had done nothing about the Templar invasion. Alessandro grimaced, before explaining. When the Templars took Napoli, Alessandro and the other three Assassins assigned to the city tried to defend King Ferdinand IV, but the other Assassins died and Ferdinand was captured. Alessandro fled into the sewers, after taking a deep sword blow to the leg, and a spear thrust to the shoulder. The thieves found him and took him in, and he taught them some of the Assassin methods of free-running. After their previous leader was arrested, Alessandro was made their leader, and he set them to work, fighting against the French oppression.
Over the next few months, Paolo spent time training the thieves all of the free-running techniques he had learned, reinforcing the knowledge Alessandro had given to them. In return, Alessandro had some of his thieves give Paolo a new piece of equipment: a length of rope with a hook on the end, to be used to climb.
St Januarius' Crypt
During his time in Napoli, Paolo was constantly hearing of the return of the body of St. Januarius, and of the crypt being built in his name under the Cathedral. The Thieves' Guild were concerned, not about the religious meaning of this return, but because the excavations were close to hitting the tunnels they were based around. Paolo crept into the construction site alone late at night, when there were few workers or guards there. He searched the area for the blueprints designed by Oliviero Carafa, an Italian cardinal. Once he found them, he went to burn them, but stopped just in time. He saw an unmarked chamber, set to be built right over the Assassin tunnels. It was marked with a cross. The Cross of the Templars.
Paolo immediately burned most of the designs, keeping one copy to help him navigate the maze of construction equipment and disused tunnels. He then set off, to check on the tunnels marked with the Templar Cross. He had to resort to using his rope to cross gaps, grateful once more that he spent over a month training how to use it to climb.
When Paolo reached the chamber of the Templars, he found a group of six Templar soldiers, knelt before a casket. He took his chance instantly, extending his hidden blade and stabbing one of his kneeling foes. He then leapt as the other five men drew their swords and turned to face him. He backed out of the chamber, leading the Templars into a large section of half-constructed groundwork, and disappeared into the shadows, only appearing to stab his hidden blade into one of the men. Eventually, only two men remained, and they stood back-to-back, blades raised. Paolo cursed, realising he couldn't get them to seperate by any of his other tricks. Paolo pulled out his rope, and began to run towards the two Templars. As he got close, he flung out the rope, hooking it around one of the men's legs, and sliding along the floor, taking down both men. He then quickly drew his sword and stabbed both of the men while they were down, before muttering a prayer for their souls.
Paolo left the rope behind as he re-entered the chamber, and looked in the casket. He dropped to his knees in reverence, as he saw the bones of St. Januarius, the patron saint of the city. He then looked closer, and spotted something strange at the foot of the casket. A length of chain, about seven feet long, woven like a rope, with a sharp hook and blade at the end. Looking closer, he saw a familiar insignia on the handle of the weapon: the symbol of the Assassins! Paolo took the rope-chain, and dragged the bodies of the Templars away from the casket, hiding them in a crevice. He then climbed his way out of the tunnels, and headed back to the Thieves' Guild's base.
Destabilising the Templars in Napoli
To Free A Thief ...
Paolo spent much of the next two months training with St. Januarius' rope-chain, which he found to be useful in combat and for free-running. In fact, he was using it to scale a high wall when Alessandro approached him with a new mission. He wanted Paolo to help him free a captured thief from captivity, one who knew the location of the Thieves' Guild, and Alessandro's true identity. If the Templars learned that two Assassins were working in Naples with the thieves, they would surge through the tunnels and sewers, not stopping until they wiped out all of the Assassins and all of the thieves. If the thief couldn't be freed, Alessandro warned, they would have to kill him. Such secrets were too valuable to be spread.
Alessandro led Paolo to a large courtyard, where the thief was caged in a circular cage, similar to those that birds were kept in. It was very high up, easily out of reach, even if they leapt from one of the rooftops. The only way to get to the thief appeared to be by overpowering the barracks of guards stationed inside the building nearby, and using the winch inside to lower the cage. In other words, Alessandro could see no way to get to the thief. Before the older Assassin could shoot the thief with his crossbow, however, Paolo scrambled up the wall behind them. He climbed until he found a ledge on the same level as the cage, then turned, pulling the rope-chain from his belt. Paolo swung the chain as he leapt towards the cage, and the hooked end wrapped around one of the bars of the cage. He used it to pull himself up to the cage, before using a lockpick from his belt to open the cage. Paolo let go of the chain, allowing the thief to use it to climb down and drop to the ground, landing athletically. A group of ten guards ran into the courtyard, just as the thief and Alessandro left the courtyard. Paolo dropped down, rope-chain in his hand, ready to face the group.
As the first guard raced towards him, Paolo began to swing the rope-chain around above his head. He leapt to one side, lashing out at the guardsman and embedding the spike in the man's chin. He pulled it free and continued swinging the chain, lashing and lunging out at the guards as they tried to circle him. By the time they managed to surround the Assassin, Paolo had taken down three of them, and injured two more. The men advanced towards him menacingly, but Paolo continued to swing the rope-chain above his head, before making a wide sweep in a complete circle, slicing three of the men's throats and cutting open two other men's chests. He then swung again twice, burying the spike in each man's guts. Before the last man's body hit the floor, Paolo was running out of the courtyard, making for the tunnels below the city.
Assault on the Barracks
About two months after rescuing the captured thief, in early August of 1502, Paolo received word from one of Alessandro's spies regarding the leader of the French military presence, Colonel Xavier Delacroix, a distant relative of the French King, Louis XII. Paolo immediately recognised Delacroix's name from his work in the libraries of Venice, having heard it mentioned by the Templar who had been bribing the Doge Agostino Barbarigo, and began preparing himself for an all-out assault on Delacroix's location, a barracks in the center of the city. Paolo was checking his weapons when Alessandro entered and offered the full support of his thieves in attacking the Templars. When Paolo questioned him about it, Alessandro responded by saying how he had strayed from the Assassin's Creed and sinned, but had finally found a worthy leader to follow into battle so he could redeem himself. Paolo thanked his fellow Assassin, and the two prepared themselves together. Paolo looted the thieves' armoury, taking a short sword as a secondary weapon, as well as a crossbow for ranged assaults. He also took a length of rope, which he could tie to a bolt and fire to slide across it like a zipline. After all, there was no harm in being prepared. Alessandro carried a pair of long daggers, as well as a dozen poisoned throwing knives, a short curved scimitar and a hidden blade.
Alessandro and Paolo met up with a dozen of Alessandro's thieves just below the surface. Paolo gave them a brief as to the three key tactical points that they needed to strike at: the entrance to the armoury, the underground dungeon where other thieves were being held, and the watchtower above. Paolo ordered the thieves to covertly assemble in the streets close to the main entrance of the barracks, so they could strike when the signal of a flare was lit at the top of the watchtower. Paolo and Alessandro were the infiltrators, their Assassin training being more useful than the thieves' for fighting any guards silently.
In the middle of the night, Paolo and Alessandro surfaced from the tunnels in a street a block away from the barracks. The two immediately made their way to the rooftops, where they flitted like shadows onto the roof of the barracks. Paolo spotted the two guardsmen, armed with flintlock rifles, sitting by a small balcony playing cards. Paolo drew his crossbow and aimed it at one of the guards, but Alessandro caught hold of his arm, pulling him away. Alessandro drew a pair of his throwing knives, and threw them both into the guards. The two Assassins then ran straight to the balcony, and Alessandro leapt over the railing. Alessandro slung one rifle over his shoulder, and handed Paolo the other one. Alessandro then ducked through the veranda doors to sneak down to the dungeons, and Paolo began to scale the tower from the outside.
About half-way up the tower, Paolo looked down. Below him, he could see a new pair of guards had appeared on the balcony, and had discovered the body. As he looked, they turned and began to run inside. Paolo sped up, eager to reach the top of the watchtower before the guards could ring the alarm bells.
Once at the top of the watchtower, Paolo bolted the trapdoor. Less than a minute after he did so, the guards began to bang against it. Paolo readied the flare, aiming it upwards, but was distracted by the deafening bang of a rifle. As he turned, the guards forced their way up through the now-broken trapdoor. Paolo turned, drawing his own rifle. He fired it at the first guard to climb out of the trapdoor, the bullet tearing through the muscles in the man's arm and causing him to fall into the next man trying to climb the ladder. Paolo then dropped the rifle and turned back to light the flare, causing it to explode in the sky above the tower. As one, the thieves struck across the surrounding district.
As the thieves attacked the guards across the district, Paolo had more pressing concerns. Half a dozen men were trying to force their way through the splintered trapdoor below his feet, and there was no time to climb down from the outside. There was only one move left that he could make. Paolo drew the crossbow from his shoulder and aimed it at a secondary guard tower, about thirty feet below and across from him. Wrapping one end of a rope around the hook-shaped bolt, and the other around a sturdy pillar on his end, Paolo fired the bolt and watched as it embedded itself in the roof of the other tower, before pulling the rope to test that it was taut. He dropped the crossbow, then tore his scarf off, slinging it over the improvised zipline and clutching it in both hands, before leaping from the rampart of the tower.
Paolo yelled, a wordless cry, as he slid across the empty chasm between the rooftops. Roughly two feet from the other side, he let go of his scarf, catching hold of the edge of the roof. He pulled himself up, slicing the zipline with his hidden blade to stop the guards from following him. Paolo drew both his sword and short sword, cutting down the two guards that raced to stop him.